SIGAI Science Policy Statement Discussion

With the events of the past several months, the officers are interested in making SIGAI’s own statement about the immediate and long term future of AI, technology, and science in the United States. The travel ban was just the first of issues that are likely to unfold and that may impede the AI community from pursuing and communicating scientific work. Other areas of immediate concern include appointments to the administration’s science positions, such as the White House Office of Science & Technology Policy, and now the looming budget cuts for non-defense spending. Depending on how AI is framed to the administration, we could be negatively impacted if, for example, AI R&D appear to be threatening jobs.

In this blog, we encourage a thorough discussion of a possible statement by SIGAI. Included in this post are ones by other groups and a draft statement to get our discussion started.

Please give your feedback as Comments to this blog post and by sending your thoughts to Larry Medsker at LRM@gwu.edu.

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DRAFT       Statement by ACM SIGAI       DRAFT

The SIGAI shares the concerns of their parent organization, ACM, about the implications of recent executive orders and statements by President Trump and his administration. We request that current and future actions will not negatively affect members of the scientific community and their work.
We encourage SIGAI members to choose actions that suit their individual positions on potential threats to the conduct of scientific work and on actions that may impede the AI community from pursuing and communicating scientific work. We recommend joining avenues within ACM and the action plans of other scientific organizations such as AAAS and the March for Science on April 22.
We request that SIGAI members share their efforts and experiences and welcome all input and feedback at https://sigai.acm.org/aimatters/blog.

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Statements by Other Groups

ACM Statement

“The Association for Computing Machinery, a global scientific and educational organization representing the computing community, expresses concern over US President Donald J. Trump’s Executive Order imposing suspension of visas to nationals of seven countries.

“The open exchange of ideas and the freedom of thought and expression are central to the aims and goals of ACM. ACM supports the statute of International Council for Science in that the free and responsible practice of science is fundamental to scientific advancement and human and environmental well-being. Such practice, in all its aspects, requires freedom of movement, association, expression and communication for scientists. All individuals are entitled to participate in any ACM activity.”

SIGARCH Statement

“The SIGARCH executive committee shares the concerns of its parent organization, ACM, about the implications of the USA president’s executive order restricting entry of certain foreign nationals to the USA. These restrictions will not only affect scientists and members of our community who live outside of the USA, but they also impact the ability of many within the USA, in particular students, to travel. SIGARCH does not believe in, nor does it endorse, discrimination based on race, gender, faith, nationality or culture and is fully committed to its mission in spite of these restrictions. SIGARCH will be working on policies to best address this situation. Meanwhile, we strongly encourage all our sponsored events to provide support (e.g., technologies for remote participation) to maximize inclusive participation of our broader scientific community worldwide. Proposals for financial support towards this end should be submitted to the SIGARCH treasurer and will be considered on a case by case basis. We encourage event organizers to share their efforts and experiences and welcome all input and feedback at infodir_SIGARCH@acm.org.”

AAAS Statement

Scientific progress depends on openness, transparency, and the free flow of ideas. The United States has always attracted and benefited from international scientific talent because of these principles.

“The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), the world’s largest general science society, has consistently encouraged international cooperation between scientists. We know that fostering safe and responsible conduct of research is essential for scientific advancement, national prosperity, and international security. Therefore, the detaining of students and scientists that have already been screened, processed, and approved to receive a visa to visit the United States is contrary to the spirit of science to pursue scholarly and professional interests. In order for science and the economy to prosper, students and scientists must be free to study and work with colleagues in other countries.

“The January 27, 2017 White House executive order on visas and immigration will discourage many of the best and brightest international students, scholars, and scientists from studying and working in the United States, or attending academic and scientific conferences. Implementation of this policy compromises the United States’ ability to attract international scientific talent and maintain scientific and economic leadership. It is in our national interest to take a balanced approach to immigration that protects national security interests and advances our scientific leadership.

“After the tragic events of September 11, 2001, as restrictions on immigration and foreign national travel were put in place to safeguard our national security, AAAS and other organizations worked closely with the Bush administration to advise on a balanced approach. We strongly recommend a similar discussion with officials in the Trump administration.”

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